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Op-ed

Dear Interstate 95 speedster | GUEST COMMENTARY

Before you take that ramp onto I-95, put your foot on the gas and speed while you weave in and out of traffic, I would like to introduce myself to you. My name is Paula, and I am right over there in the right-hand lane.

You might be wondering why I am traveling on I-95, selfishly trying to share the road with you while you have your “fun” playing the dangerous and deadly game of “Indy 500″ with the lives of drivers around you. You leave the fast lane, move to my right lane in one fell swoop, and then weave back over to the fast lane so you can once again be “the first and the fastest.” Sometimes I see you and a buddy racing each other. By the way, you might think you “got” the lane switch down but sometimes you don’t. I’ve slammed on the brakes often these past two years. You are not as good as you think you are.

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I am begging you to learn a little bit about me before your next trip. I live in Baltimore, have three children, and I am also a grandmother to two beautiful little boys. Becoming a mother and grandmother has brought me so much joy — I cannot even begin to explain the feeling. One of my grandsons lives in Baltimore and the other lives in Alexandria. I travel I-95 once a week to visit and spend the night. Sometimes my husband travels with me, but most times I travel alone.

In the back seat of my car is a cooler. Inside the cooler is a 9 by 13-inch pan of lasagna, cooked breakfast sausage, a dozen eggs, a bunch of bananas, a gallon of whole milk and a container of blackberries — all my grandson’s favorite foods, and foods they can’t keep enough of in the house.

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My suitcase is full of warm clothes this time of year because we try to take a walk together every day. Sometimes he sits in his wagon; other times in the stroller, and now that he started to walk, sometimes I just hold his tiny little hand.

When I park my car and walk up their driveway, I can see him, in his mother’s arms, waving, throwing kisses, or just smiling. My daughter can track my travel so she knows when I’m pulling up. She times it just right for me to see them at the window. Can you imagine that feeling? I can’t put the cooler and suitcase down fast enough. Everything can wait. He and I hug and giggle, and I feel such relief in knowing I am there and we are about to spend time together.

I love our meals together. I love when we play together. I love our quiet times together in the nursery when I’m reading to him and he’s just sitting there, listening, sometimes holding onto my index finger so we can point to things together — dogs and chickens and balls. Lately we’ve been reading a bubble bath book and “popping” the bubbles together. As I put him in the crib, say, “night, night — I love you,” and go to turn out the light, he turns around and smiles at me. Always.

So there I am on I-95, driving the speed limit in one of the right hand lanes. I am a good driver, keeping my distance from the car in front of me and looking for problem drivers like you on the road. I don’t look at my phone. I don’t do anything to distract me from getting from Baltimore to Alexandria and back again safely. Yet, there you are, on every trip. I don’t know how to stop you, but I am now begging you: Please slow down. Please put your blinker on. Please stop taking chances with my life. I don’t want to die. I have too much to live for.

Paula Beres (paulaberes@yahoo.com) is a retired school librarian.


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